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Conventional Tales in Sierra Leone: What Function for Librarians?



Tales are as outdated as language, as outdated because the earliest societies. A number of of the earliest tales even survive: these instructed in pictorial kind on partitions of collapse Lascaux, in France or within the Mpongweni Mountains in Lesotho. And others have come right down to us on the planet’s myths and folklore to which we now have entry on the printed age. Storytelling is older than printing, older than writing, and the primary tales to be set down on paper, papyrus or parchment weren’t the work of these authors however information of the oral traditions of previous centuries. In Sierra Leone as it’s in most African international locations storytelling is an integral a part of the nation’s life though oral traditions have very largely yielded to the written phrase.

We be taught as we stay whereas we’re kids, younger individuals and adults. Studying will not be confined to the classroom alone: it may well happen wherever. Ethical values and social norms, beliefs and codes must be transmitted from era to the following, whether or not modified or not. Casual studying settings are related and is likely to be dominant even at present when extra formalized and particular establishments have partly taken over.

Whereas Sierra Leoneans guard themselves in opposition to their previous each educationists and librarians see loads in storytelling that may very well be used as basis to orient and develop the younger within the college system. There are numerous indications that an immense richness of conventional pedagogy in respect to the rules, contents, strategies and institutional preparations existed and nonetheless exist in Sierra Leone. Story tellers, their tales and songs, proverbs and riddles are nonetheless vital belongings and topics for indigenous studying and training. Oral traditions don’t solely cross the mores and requirements of a society. They got down to clarify the world and behavior of the individuals in it. Oral traditions provide accounts of how the world started and these creation myths are half additionally of the Holy Books of all of the world’s long-established religions equivalent to Christianity and Islam. Additionally defined in allegorical phrases is all human behaviour by which good doesn’t all the time conquer evil.

Tales which don’t depend upon literature in flip don’t depend upon literacy. They will attain the entire group and their interactive high quality is itself energy, for it facilitates the capabilities of tales in social instruction, what Leeson (1985) referred to as “passing on the nation’s shared knowledge and values to the following era.” Sadly there’s a lacking hyperlink in Sierra Leone as college going kids are effectively acquainted with the tales of Nice Britain, america of America, Canada and Italy to quote a number of examples however know little or no about their conventional tales.


Sierra Leone contains sixteen (16) ethnic teams. The most important of those is the Mende discovered within the Southern and Jap Provinces. Subsequent to them in quantity is the Temne within the North. The third largest group is the Limba, additionally within the Northern Province, adopted by the Kono within the Jap Province. There’s additionally the Koranko within the North in addition to the Yalunka, Loko, Soso, Madingo and Fula. On the coast, North and South are the Bullom and Sherbro adopted by the a lot smaller teams of Krim, Vai and Gola, with the Kissi additional inland within the Jap Province. The Western Space, together with Freetown, is extra combined in inhabitants, however is principally the house of the Creole group. In all these ethnic teams storytelling is widespread as a part of their tradition.

Ogutu and Roscoe (1974) had this to say about storytelling in Africa: “The continent has its personal fiction traditions; it has the custom of storytelling, narrated orally… the medium by way of which Africa down the centuries has bared its soul, taught its individuals and entertained itself” (pp. 43-44).

Conventional tales in Sierra Leone are perceived as embodiment of the beliefs, customs, rituals and constructions of society that should be maintained. Tales function inside society to insure conformity to the accepted cultural norms of continuity from era to era by way of their position in training and the extent to which they mirror tradition. Most conventional storytellers declare to derive their artwork by way of desires, spirits, and apprenticeship to skilled storytellers; others declare to amass the artwork instantly from God whereas some say they paid to amass it. Storytellers possess the next options:

• Fluency within the native language and mastery of a variety of vocabulary for all ranges of audiences;

• Creativity and talent to ascertain rapport with their audiences;

• Information of their audiences and their wants;

• Familiarity with and talent to confer with their tradition and atmosphere to enliven their tales and make them enchantment to their viewers;

• Good reminiscence of correct retention and narration of a big corpus of fabric; and

• Candour.

The contents of conventional tales could be grouped into:

• Myths-stories tinted with faith, superstition and conventional beliefs particularly concerning the origins of mankind and phenomena;

• Legends-stories about historic occasions and memorable individuals equivalent to battle heroes, excellent medication males and migration;

• Fiction-imaginary tales categorized into allegory, fables, fantasy and parables.

These could be additional categorised by social perform or establishment specifically:

• Political stories-stories about management and the connection between leaders and their topics;

• Tribe stories-these reveal the constructions, households and communities i.e. marriage and genealogies;

• Faith and deities-stories about creation and phenomena equivalent to dying and rain;

• Ethical virtues-stories meant to deride such vices as pleasure, greed, thievery, homicide, dishonesty, foolishness and lack of perception;

• Economics-stories that cope with work, borrowing and lending, industriousness and laziness.

Characters in typical conventional Sierra Leonean tales vary from individuals to animals, stones, bushes, vegetation, deities, spirits and birds. These characters are symbolic: Bra rabbit- trickery; tortoise-wisdom; elephant-nobility; vulture-patience; lion-bravery and power; sparrow, parrot and crow-intelligence; dove-good fortune; spider-cunning. Tales are instructed purely for night entertainments. Typically storytelling periods may very well be any time of the day with audiences in personal verandahs, ‘court docket barries’ or different public locations. Nevertheless, the normal setting the place twenty to forty individuals sit collectively round a kerosene lamp or fireplace at night time after a day’s work is completed and meals has been cooked and eaten. Storytellers are additionally invited to cultural social capabilities equivalent to weddings, burials, secret society celebrations and crowning ceremonies. Tobacco is usually offered for with out smoking storytelling concepts is not going to move.

Tales associate with songs; a music begins off a narrative; an vital line in a narrative makes up a brand new story; a proverb ends a narrative; a music in the course of a narrative is used to get up listeners or to organize for the approaching climax. Fairly often songs do invite participation, and listeners turn into lively supporters of a refrain, clapping their palms, reaching to lies and jokes of the story teller, who in flip solutions the feedback usually with one other story. Songs are backed by the beating of conventional musical devices like ‘kaylain’, ‘sira’ ‘seigureh’ and ‘sangba’ (native drum) so as to add rhythm. Story telling viewers is often lively. It catalyses the narratives by spontaneous exclamations, inquiries to the narrator, echoing of the narrator’s voice, and becoming a member of within the singing of choruses. For all these to happen self-discipline is maintained. The viewers is made to chuckle and exclaim however with out jeopardizing the continuation of the narration.


Foremost is socialization. The telling and listening of tales is a social exercise that brings individuals collectively to share in creative and inventive affair. The event is supposed to entertain so that individuals might overlook the drudgery of each day life. Individuals are transplanted to a world of make-belief. Because the narration goes by way of the nuances of recreating the fictional world the viewers is carried alongside like passengers on a flight. The enjoyment derived is facilitated by the social group of the viewers. The environment is usually casual with no coercion or harassment; everyone seems to be on equal footing no matter gender and age.

Contributors have an opportunity to relate and pay attention. The state of affairs underscores the worth of social cooperation. The self-discipline inherent within the narration is inevitably remodeled to spheres of life. Contributors be taught to respect others, recognize private variations in talents and temperament and be capable to relate in a standard exercise.

Psychological stimulation is derived from storytelling. Tales are instructed and acquired by way of the ear. The demand they place on the narrator is to recollect the story and inform it for a potential retelling in future. That is good coaching for the reminiscence. One must be attentive to get the necessities of a narrative and assimilate it into repertoire. Thus the thoughts have to be very lively to accommodate the brand new data or varieties of what’s already recognized. In addition to coaching of reminiscence the narratives sharpen important appreciation. One has to inquest the message of the narrative and evaluates the occasions associated.

Tales usually are not simply instructed for their very own sake however have vital items of social instruction to impart. The allegories of occasions and characters replicate on human life and are a supply of studying. Within the characters of tales the viewers will see laziness, sages, cowards, agitators and the smug to quote however a number of examples. Tales give hints as to the way to react to them. The narratives give pointers on what’s cherishable. In different phrases they search to vary life.

Tales are cultural information. The tradition of a individuals is the totality of their methods of life which embrace faith, beliefs, customs, practices, music, literature, attitudes, and philosophy. By being didactic tales current to individuals the philosophical essence of the society. The contents of oral traditions epitomize the foundations of that group. The tales of faith, creation and supernatural give the spiritual foundations of that group. Biographies and historic tales current the mundane landmarks in what’s the society at present. By way of the normal heroes, individuals recognize what the society admires.


Tales are wealthy in custom and a useful heritage that are the nation’s supply of oral literature. Storytelling is like historical past: it reveals the previous, educates the current and throws lights on the longer term. Tales contact the soul of society and jolt them into an consciousness of their situation. In Sierra Leone nevertheless these treasures of oral custom are at risk of being disdained, forgotten and buried. By selling the gathering and publication of those oral sources of knowledge college librarians is not going to solely contribute to a worthwhile revival of curiosity in a hitherto uncared for area however will be certain that posterity will derive most advantages from such an endeavour.

Sierra Leone is, in political parlance, a comparatively new state following a decade-long civil battle (1991-2001). Recording tales and together with these within the college curriculum might discover options to the nation’s issues of non-integration. Simply because the nation’s Nationwide Dance Troupe over time developed right into a household nationwide ensemble so will recording conventional tales current a much less heterogeneous origin and assume a very nationwide and homogenous character.

Conventional tales educate ethical classes widespread to all of the ethnic teams in Sierra Leone. Sir Winston Wilson as soon as noticed that the additional again we glance into the previous, the extra into the longer term we will see. Recording conventional tales might assist Sierra Leoneans to look again to their previous with a view to seeing into their future. Moreover, colleges alongside public libraries are the preferred locations to inform tales to kids. The kind of viewers determines the sort of story to be instructed. As an example kids from ages three to 5 get pleasure from tales about animals and about kids themselves. Whereas school-age kids go in for lengthy tales. Junior Excessive Faculty pupils like myths and epics. They’re fascinated by heroes and revel in journey and romance.

The precise to learn one’s personal world is a necessary a part of the correct to be taught. Tales and songs are the media by way of which Sierra Leoneans have been to cross to their kids the traditions, customs, tradition and oral historical past of their society. Indigenous literature nevertheless is critical to forestall the literate particular person from changing into alienated from his personal tradition and custom. It strengthens the appreciation of 1’s personal cultural values and cultural identification in a quickly altering atmosphere. In Sierra Leone the place for a very long time training has been based mostly on books that relate to different cultures this is essential. Like all over the place else on the planet the attention of individuals’s cultural heritage can also be a prerequisite for the continuity, cohesion and progress of their society. Over and above all of the wealthy oral traditions of Sierra Leoneans with their totally different languages can simply get misplaced with the propagation of recent technique of communication, if not preserved.


Libraries are the gatekeepers to the world of knowledge and data. Kinnell (1992) opined that Good libraries empower. Utilizing their assets can unfetter our creativeness, disclose hitherto unrealized worlds; promote data; induce pleasure; make us chuckle; insights; problem our misconceptions; assuage fears; prick our conscience; affect our sensibilities; and supply skilled refreshment. “What we be taught from good books and different assets turn into a part of us”(p.5).

Libraries are the impartial grounds on which the person youngster might develop by way of unbiased and unhindered discovery. They’re locations to be taught and observe data expertise. Libraries present sources of knowledge for younger individuals, enabling them to find and use the ability of entry that data expertise can convey within the society of at present and that of tomorrow. Amonoo and Azubuike (2003) opined that libraries are catalysts for human progress as they support the event and transmission of data and tradition, and foster civic consciousness in assist of democracy. Libraries protect and promote cultural heritage and variety, and foster mutual understanding and respect for cultures and peoples. For Johnson (2013) “good college and faculty libraries can improve the academic expertise, encourage studying and fostering the important considering that college students would require to outlive and prosper in an more and more complicated society”(p.295).

A bonus that libraries get pleasure from is that they’re centrally positioned inside communities. As such they’re effectively positioned to meet a job as cultural facilities. They’re pure locations for the promotion of literature together with poetry, drama, prose and storytelling. In addition they provide venue for visible arts and music. As well as they’re cultural facilities within the true sense of the phrase, highlighting native tradition and in a position to spotlight the tradition of youngsters representing the varied teams throughout the group.

Le Roux (2005) averred that the college library is nothing lower than the conscience of the curriculum. Faculties libraries present related and up-to-date supplies and providers for instructing employees and pupils to assist the curriculum. Implicitly the gathering so developed needs to be one which displays not solely the recognized wants of customers but in addition anticipated wants of potential academics and pupils. By presenting their customers with a consultant assortment of youngsters’s literature libraries might stimulate academics and pupils alike to develop imaginative use of storytelling supplies that may very well be handed on to pupils in subsequent years.

Provision and promotion of providers presupposes a data and understanding of the world inside which kids stay on a worldwide, nationwide and foundation. Kids can derive from libraries enjoyment of story expertise, of language, and of related artwork. The assets of the library might foster data of a wider world and an understanding of different individuals with regard to habits, tradition, or conditions (Johnson,2013). Kids can acquire self-knowledge by way of referring to conditions, occasions and characters. Libraries can present for youngsters’s data wants. Good providers might assist to engender confidence within the acquisition of vocabulary, speech and language. Libraries present alternatives for shared expertise between adults and youngsters. Central to the philosophy of library provision for younger individuals is to assist formal and casual training.

Faculty libraries are communication facilities. They represent a great technique of disseminating / data. Their function is to facilitate entry to the clientele they serve to the instruments of data to help their cultural {and professional} improvement (Wehmeyer, 2005). Finally this perform is related to the mental improvement of pupils and their attitudes in direction of conditions of every kind, ethical, mental, social, sensible and leisure.


Conventional tales are elements of peoples’ indigenous data programs and contemplating their social capabilities in society there may be each want for these to be preserved. The actual fact in the principle is that a lot of the artwork of storytelling is owned by adults most of whom are rising outdated and dying. And in Africa for example when an outdated particular person dies it’s believed {that a} library is burnt. That is the place college librarians ought to are available to play a vital position. Conventional storytelling is an inexplicable phenomenon of Sierra Leonean life and is indispensable for future improvement. Already steps have been undertaken by some organizations like Companions in Grownup Schooling (PEA), the Division of Historical past and African Research and the Division of Further-Mural Research (DEMS) at Fourah Bay Faculty to file some conventional tales, songs, proverbs and riddles for future use. Faculty librarians needs to be a part of these efforts by recording conventional tales utilizing typical data and communication applied sciences equivalent to telecommunications (cell phones), computer systems, microfiche, and audiovisual applied sciences( e.g. cassette recorders, slides, video tapes, tape recorders and CD-ROMs) to file, repackage and disseminate tales for his or her meant audiences. Given the significance of internet know-how in data gathering and dissemination librarians can even file tales in internet OPACs in order that academics, pupils, and researchers can learn totally different tales in addition to biographies of famend story tellers within the nation (Kochtanek and Mathews, 2002).

Additional college librarians needs to be transcribing and publishing tales into booklets and anthologies to be used in colleges. Such efforts will contribute to the modest inventory of written supplies within the nation accessible for colleges, youths and even adults. Translating conventional tales into a number of languages will contribute to intercultural understanding within the nation. By way of these efforts the nation’s cultures would turn into the content material of studying and even the shape by taking it from its roots.

As conventional tales and songs live in sure contexts rudiments of those may very well be offered in photos: village life, arts and crafts, landscapes, peoples and journey routes. Central in all these efforts might be photos of story tellers and their audiences, dancers and artists. The visible impressions created by pictures will additional strengthen kids’s understanding and curiosity at school. Story telling periods mustn’t solely be filmed / videoed however librarians ought to compile biographies of storytellers to be used in colleges. Such strides will enrich kids’s data of the varied ethnic teams within the nation and will go a good distance in lowering illiteracy.

In class librarians ought to advocate for elevated slots for storytelling on the agenda. They need to additionally foyer for the introduction of conventional storytelling as much as Junior Secondary Faculty stage as elements of Literature. Kids needs to be delivered to the library for particular storytelling periods in order that they might not overlook their tradition. Dad and mom and Storytellers needs to be invited to relate tales at school for the advantage of kids. Such efforts want collaboration with topic academics who higher perceive the wants of pupils and the curriculum. Faculty librarians also needs to preserve hyperlinks with public libraries and close by colleges of their areas. Kids needs to be taken on go to to public libraries inside their localities the place storytelling periods may very well be held. In all these strikes college librarians ought to possess in depth data of storytelling acceptable for the various wants and ranges of pupils of their respective colleges. Hyperlinks also needs to be made with tertiary establishments and organizations engaged in grownup literacy that are already concerned in conventional storytelling actions as a part of their curricula. Lecturers and animators may very well be invited to high school to speak to kids concerning the significance of conventional storytelling and even inform tales for the advantage of pupils and academics. There are group radios stations all around the nation and colleges can purchase air time to carry discussions on storytelling. If potential storytellers needs to be invited to such talks to be both interviewed or inform tales. The truth is the nationwide broadcaster, the Sierra Leone Broadcasting Cooperation (SLBC) might play a number one position on this course by creating not less than a slot in its weekly packages for storytelling.

The varsity librarians, to be efficient, want to have the ability to “promote” the artwork of storytelling in the identical method different rivals for youngsters “promote” their wares. They need to manage Guide Weeks with storytelling periods included within the actions to be carried out in such Weeks. Throughout such periods storytellers and guardian may very well be invited to inform tales to kids. Academics, mother and father and older pupils needs to be inspired to jot down and skim tales to the youthful ones. They need to additionally present video clips or slides/musical variations of famend conventional tales.


A effectively used college library promotes studying, raises achievement and enhances pupils’ private and social improvement. It’s an asset to the college, each by way of bodily assets and the broader assets all through the college it’s going to harness for the advantage of its customers (The Library Affiliation (1998). Invariably, conventional tales have handed from the traditional to current day generations by phrase of mouth. They’ve survived the take a look at of time due to the universality of their messages throughout time and limits. Thus Sierra Leoneans nonetheless discover conventional tales related and adoptable to their experiences at present. As time passes on conventional tales nonetheless must be handed right down to their descendants. Noticeably this shouldn’t be solely by way of the oral phrase. Literacy and different elements of recent life are available to assist the preservation and additional transmission of conventional tales. And that is the place college librarians ought to are available. By way of compilation of anthologies, recording tales into audio tapes, CD ROMs, and cinema movies and creation of networks to quote however a number of examples, college librarians will be capable to create a extra everlasting file of this useful asset for future use.


Supply by John A Kargbo

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